I’m starting a series of large drawings based on blue and white Chinoiserie style patterns, usually found on china plates. One particularly famous pattern is called “Blue Willow”. What’s interesting to me about these Chinoiserie blue and white patterns is that they were inspired by pottery that was imported into Europe in the 16th century. The scenes that are painted are fantastical and imagined Chinese scenarios.
My time is extremely divided and limited. I try to steal moments to fit in making my artwork. I started to make little drawings with watercolour on these paper labels. They only take a moment and I consider them mini-meditations.
Recently, my beautiful, creative, intelligent daughter with hearing aids was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. Like the hearing loss diagnosis, it was a shock but it explained many things: her hypersensitivity to the way socks feel, her inability to transition from one thing to another, her unique way of speaking.
Then I realized that we are all labelled and have many of them. I’m working on making hundreds of these little label drawings, of random things that catch my interest. On a recent weekend at a friend’s cottage, my seven year old wanted to paint on some of these labels too. I would love to see them integrated with the ones that I paint in a large installation–perhaps pinned on the wall, or hanging from threads, or in drawers and envelopes.
These labels may be part of us but don’t necessarily define us.
The collaborative work that my five year old hard of hearing daughter and I are doing is the most interesting and challenging work I have done in a long time. I’ve decided to title the exhibit “Sign Language“, as it refers not only to the ASL we are learning, but more about how people can communicate non-verbally. This give-and-take (okay, more “take” in my kid’s case) relationship is a different way of working for me. I want to respect and keep a lot of her mark making and imagery, but at the same time often I have to alter or remove them for the sake of the whole piece. There is a part of my heart that is crushed every time I make a decision like this, to “erase” a precious part of her childhood. To her, she doesn’t really care. It’s just another drawing.
We are using all sorts of materials, such as acrylic, tempera, crayon, watercolour pencils, gouache. Our latest addition to our media vocabulary is pink and purple sparkly paint! M. doesn’t like the way it’s translucent; she prefers her colours bold and punchy. And sparkly.
I am finding that our use of bird imagery is especially pertinent, because before she was aided at almost four, she couldn’t hear birds at all.
My daughter assessing her work on our collaborative drawing project